New Student Support

Prospective and New Students

Greetings and welcome to the Roger Williams University (RWU) family! As you are about to begin your personal and educational exploration here, you will learn more about yourself, the world and your place in it. The important information in this guide will help you plan your trip to Bristol and to address some of your initial arrival and settling-in questions.

The Intercultural Center (IC) will assist you in all aspects of your adjustment to living and studying in the United States. We are prepared to help you with questions about academics, immigration procedures and regulations, housing, employment and community life. The Intercultural Center is a place where cultures merge and students share their customs and traditions with the campus community. We hope that the Intercultural Center will become your home away from home, a place to relax in-between classes, meet people from all over the world and get involved in campus life.

We hope this guide is helpful and provides you with basic information for your arrival at Roger Williams University. If you have any questions, before or after your arrival, please feel free to contact us by phone (401) 254-3400 or email

It is important to check the website frequently for any updates or information you may need prior to your arrival.

Arrival Guide

To view the Arrival Guide please click the link below:


International Orientation is mandatory for all new international students, and is designed to provide you with an early start on your RWU experience.

Not only will you prepare to face college life, but you will also make friends that will last throughout your college years and beyond. During orientation you will have the opportunity to meet many of your new classmates and university staff members who will assist you during your first year.

Our program provides the unique opportunity to ask questions and discuss issues with officials from throughout the University, including staff from health services, campus safety and academic departments.

International Ambassadors & Orientation Advisors

You will also get to know the International Ambassadors & Orientation Advisors - returning RWU students who will help you make a smooth transition to RWU. These experienced international and U.S. students will be there to answer any question you might have about this exciting new part of your life. Before you begin to think orientation is all work and no play, know that the program includes some great social activities as well, such as trips, social meals and nightly activities. Your International Ambassadors will meet with you throughout the sememster to help you have a smooth transition into the university. In addition, they will be available to answer any questions you may have. 

At the time you check-in for International Student Orientation, you will officially become a Roger Williams University student. It is not only a time for you to learn about Roger Williams University, but also to learn more about yourself. Our extensively trained orientation staff will be available during the program to answer any questions you may have and make you feel at home. Orientation is an exciting way to start your life at Roger Williams.

During Orientation you will:

  • Learn about what it is like to live and study in the U.S.
  • Get tips on succeeding academically
  • Meet new people and make new friends
  • Take placement tests and register for classes
  • Receive information on your immigration status
  • Go shopping to get essential items for your dorm room
  • Learn about campus job opportunities
  • Meet faculty to discuss your course of study
  • Find out about getting actively involved on campus
  • Learn about campus policies and available student services
  • Participate in campus traditions and events
  • Get valuable advice on making a successful transition to college life

For more orientation information visit the Orientation Website, or email them at:

Cultural Adjustment 

Whether you have read books and articles, or have studied in the United States before, it is always an adjustment when you live and study in a community that is different from your own. The majority of people studying, working or living in a new and different culture undergo cultural adjustment. There is a difference between “getting adjusted” – settling into your new dorm room or apartment, learning your schedule – and cultural adjustment.

Most of you will be excited with the newness of being in the United States, meeting new people and getting settled into your new lives. For some of you however, the excitement will wear off, and you will experience some difficulty adjusting to your new environment. Remember, you are not alone; there have been many international students before you who have experienced what you are feeling.

Culture Shock

"Culture shock" is very common and happens when a person is adjusting to a new culture and environment. There are some things you can do when you start to experience the sense of anger, frustration or even mild depression associated with culture shock:

  1. Recognize and acknowledge that you might be experiencing culture shock
  2. Make new friends with U.S. and international students
  3. Talk to someone about your feelings - a friend, your RA, a counselor or IC staff member
  4. Get off campus and explore the area - Bristol, Newport, Providence, Boston and New York City are close by
  5. Do not give up

The Four Stages of Cross-Cultural Adjustment

The Honeymoon Stage

The honeymoon stage is characterized by feelings of exhilaration, anticipation and excitement. You are fascinated with everything that is new. You are embarking on your "dream come true", studying in the United States. You may feel eager to please the people around you. You display a spirit of cooperation, and show an active interest in others. Because you want to please others, you may nod or smile to indicate understanding when in fact you have not understood. When the misunderstandings mount up, you move into the second stage of cultural adjustment, the hostility stage.

The Hostility Stage

The second stage of cultural adjustment is characterized by feelings of frustration, anger, anxiety and sometimes depression. You may feel frustrated by university bureaucracy and weary of speaking and listening in English daily. It can be upsetting to realize that, although you have studied English, you don't seem to understand anyone. Sleep patterns may be disrupted. You may suffer from indigestion and be unable to eat. You might react to your frustration by rejecting your new environment.

The internal reasoning might be, "if I feel bad, it is because of them." At this point it is likely that you will display some hostility towards United States culture. Some of this hostility is translated into fits of anger over minor frustrations, excessive fear and mistrust of U.S. citizens, frequent absenteeism, lack of interest, lack of motivation and, at worst, complete withdrawal. Many academic problems begin during this stage.

The Humor Stage

The third stage follows when you begin to feel relaxed in new situations and begin to laugh at misunderstandings and minor mistakes that would have caused major headaches during the hostility stage. You will have made some friends and you are able to manage the size and complexity of the University.

The Home Stage

The final stage occurs when you not only retain allegiance to your home culture, but also "feel at home" in the United States. You have successfully adjusted to the norms and standards of this University and this country. You should be commended for the ability to live successfully in two cultures!

Tips for Coping With the "Hostility Stage"

  1. Talk to someone from your home country. It can be very helpful to discuss your concerns with someone who shares your cultural perspective.

  2. Meet people from the U.S. A sympathetic U.S. citizen can provide you with insight on cultural norms and standards in the United States. Call or stop by the Intercultural Center or Student Programs and Leadership for lists of programs and activities you can join.

  3. Join a club or organization. This is an excellent way to meet people who share similar interests. Stop by Student Programs and Leadership for a list organizations.
  4. Put things into perspective. It is common for people to experience culture shock when living in a new country. The vast majority of people go on to not only have a successful experience, but to truly enjoy their stay in the United States. Try to find the positive aspects of your stay here.

  5. Discuss your concerns with your advisor in the Intercultural Center or the counseling center. The staff at the IC is concerned about your wellbeing, and understands how difficult it can be to make the adjustment to a new culture.

We promise this period will pass if you let it. If you are having a difficult time, be sure to come to the Intercultural Center to talk about your feelings and conflicts or contact the Counseling Center at 3124 to talk about it.